DT880 (250Ω)

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.

sound descriptions mine

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Beyerdynamic DT880 Edition –  250Ω

DT880

The Beyerdynamic DT880 Edition is an open over-ear (circumaural) dynamic headphone. It is part of a series with 3 distinctive models, the DT 770 (closed version), the DT880 (open version) and the DT 990 which is also an open version but with a different tonal balance. These are the more affordable models from Beyerdynamic.
The DT880 retails for around € 200.-.
This DT880 version is 250Ω but it also exists in a 32Ω and 600Ω version.  The 250Ω and 600Ω versions are intended for home usage and have to be driven from an amplifier that can supply enough voltage. Portable sources can not supply enough voltage. For these devices the 32Ω version is better suited. Not suited for on the go and commuting because of its open design.
The 600Ω version measures and sounds somewhat different.

There is also a DT880 Pro. This one has the same drivers and sounds (and measures) the same.  The differences with the Pro version are:

  • Pro version has a coiled cable, the edition version a straight cable.
  • Pro version has a higher clamping force.
  • Pro version has a different (less comfortable) headband.

The Beyerdynamic series DT770-DT880-DT990 exist in many different versions that have been released through their many, many years of existence. Also the DT880 has evolved and the earlier DT880’s sounds different from the later (current) versions.
In my opinion the current DT880 is an improved version of the older versions. The tonal balance of these DT880’s is quite similar though.
I also feel this is one of the better (if not the best) headphone in the Beyerdynamic range. The DT770 is more bassy and less refined, the DT990 is ‘warmer’ sounding and a bit too splashy for most people. The DT880 will not be for everyone though as it lacks ‘body’ and deep bass and is a bit treble happy, but not as much as the DT770 and DT990 (nor the more expensive Beyer offerings)
The DT880 is the most ‘neutral’ but lacks the subbass and ‘thunder’ of the DT770 and the ‘warmth’ of the DT990.

These headphones are pretty lightweight, quite comfortable with soft padded headbands, (replaceable) velour pads and a low clamping force.
It’s cable is long (3 meter) and somewhat stiff. Clearly intended for desktop usage. It is non replaceable but fortunately very low in microphonics. The Pro version has a coiled cable.

specifications:

Type: Over ear, open
Usage: Home
Driver type: dynamic
Pads: replaceable, velour
Inner Pad dimensions: depth = 22mm, ø 60mm
Collapsible: No
Headphone connector: none, fixed cable.
Cable entry: single sided (left)
Cable: 3m terminated in 3.5mm TRS with screw-able 6.3mm adapter.
Driver size: ø 40mm
Nom. power rating: 0.1W (100mW)
Max. voltage: 7V
Max. current: 30mA
Max. S.P.L.: 119dB
Impedance: 250 Ω
Efficiency: 96dB/1mW (102dB/1V)
Weight: 290 g.
Colour options: standard or ‘Manufaktur’
Clamping force: low (2.8N)
Accessories: Ø3.5mm to Ø6.3mm gold-plated connector, hardcase, 3m extension cord (6.3mm TRS)

Sound description:

Bass is there but not in abundance. Those looking for a nice and full bass will have to look elsewhere. The DT880 is somewhat missing ‘body’ / ‘fullness’ to its sound. No thumping or powerfull  bass. Mids is where this headphone is all about. The mids sound very realistic and clear. A bit ethreal and ‘thin’/’delicate’. There is no offending sound coloration between the upper bass and upper mids that stand out, it sounds very ‘even’. A bit like a HD600 with hotter treble. The treble is elevated but not as bad as the DT770 and DT990. The treble is not harsh but there is a sharpish character for sure and with some recordings sibilance (sharp ‘sss’es) is heard. Because of this elevated treble the headphone sounds highly detailed. It is a bit artificial and a bit fatiguing when used at somewhat higher listening levels. The sound has good ‘air’ and instruments are well separated and resonably easy to ‘place’. The stereo image is ‘normal’ in width. Not narrow, congested but also super wide.

Because of its neutral character the DT880 could easily be found to be boring to some.
Very well suited for acoustical, classical and Jazz music. Less suited for most pop recordings (lacks bass for it and a bit too bright in this case).
The headphone reacts quite well to EQ which is a good thing.
Cannot be turned into a tight bass monster though.

measurements:

Below the frequency response of the DT880 (Left, Right)

FR DT880

Channel matching is excellent.
The DT880 has a ‘neutral‘ tonal balance with a somewhat elevated treble on top of it.
Bass is extended but a low in amplitude. No thundrous bass nor ‘body’ to the sound. It can be called ‘lean’.
The mids have a very slight ‘warmth’ to the mids as between 300Hz and 5kHz there is a very gentle downwards slope.
The treble is elevated but not as much as that of the DT770 and DT990. The elevated treble gives the idea The DT880 is highly detailed yet not as ‘sharp’ or ‘piercing’ as other Beyerdynamic versions can be. With some EQ in the lower frequencies and in the treble range the sound quality improves. To reduce the treble level a notch with an easy to do modification scroll further down.

Below the frequency response of the DT880 compared to the DT770 Pro and DT990 Pro.

DT770 880 990

 

Some 20 years ago there were 3 ‘top model’ headphones around that were loved and hated by many. There was always the ‘battle’ between the DT880, HD600(HD650) and K701 each with their own fan base.

By lack of K701 measurements below the differences between the DT880, HD600 and HD650.

DT880 vs HD600 vs HD650

The elevated treble of the DT880 is quite obvious. Those that like the tonal character of the HD6*0 but like a bit less ‘presence’ and ‘more treble/sparkle’ at the expense of some of it’s ‘body’ may be better off with the DT880. Those that find the Sennheisers to have more than enough treble should stay away from the DT880 (and all other Beyers).

Seal is important in most headphones to get proper bass extension / reproduction. (partial) loss of seal usually means loss of bass and ‘body’.
The DT880 is quite insensitive to loss of seal but granted does not have much ‘body’ or deep bass to begin with.
People wearing glasses do not have to fear loosing any of the existing bass.
Below the frequency response with perfect seal, wearing thin armed (reading) glasses, thick armed glasses and with a complete loss of seal (pads slightly lifted open)

seal DT880

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is a dynamic headphone the frequency response might be amplifier output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
To test this the headphone is measured via a low impedance amplifier (0.2Ω) and a high impedance amplifier (120Ω).
On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be considerably lower. To compensate for this the amplifier is cranked up to the same level (at 1kHz) as the low impedance amplifier. This way the plots are overlay-ed and it is easier to show the tonal balance differences.120 Ohm

 

As can be seen the tonal balance of the DT880 does not change much when driving it from higher output resistance (desktop) ampifiers. About 0.5dB more bass is not very audible. Damping is not amplifier dependent.

Below the distortion measurements of the DT880 (Left channel)

DIST DT880 L

Below the same distortion plot but with the vertical scale in percentages instead of level differences. DIST DT880 L percent

 

The distortion levels are actually quite good for a small (40mm) dynamic driver. Especially in the lows where distortion is below 1%.
The 2nd harmonic distortion between 100Hz and 4kHz is probably lower than the shown values, as this is the limit of the measurement rig.

Below the CSD of the DT880. (Left and Right are superimposed)CSD DT880

 

The CSD is actually quite impressive. Very short lived resonances around 5kHz and 8kHz but don’t think this will be audible.

 

Below the spectrum plot of the DT880 (Left channel) which doesn’t show any alarming issues at all.

spectr DT880 L

The step response plot below shows very little and short lived ringing. The initial rise shows some overshoot but not too much. The lack of subbass is seen in the gradual sloping horizontal line.Step DT880 R

Below the square-wave and impulse response of the DT880.

DT880 SQR

Here too the lack of subbass resonse is quite visible. The 440Hz squarewave is a bit ’round’ with a sharp initial rise. This shows it’s ‘midrangy’ character.
The 100μs puls shows a fast attack with very little overshoot. The following ringing is short lived and consists of more than one frequency.

Treble modification

To reduce the treble a very easy to perform modification can be done which can easily be undone and doesn’t require much skills nor expensive or hard to find materials.
All that is needed is soft 2ply or 3 ply toiletpaper. Not the ‘rough’ single ply kind.

To perform this modification the pads need to be removed. This is really easy.. just pull them off. Once the pads are removed you end up with the situation below.pad removed
The next step is to remove the inner ring that holds the foam in place. This too is not very hard to do but requires a small flat screwdriver. Simply stick the screwdriver between the ring and the cup. Look for a spot where there is some room to stick the screwdriver in. The spot indicated below works well. Gently pry the ring upwards till it pops out.
screwdriver
The ring and foam disc are removed creating the situation below.

foam removed

Take a sheet of soft 2 (or 3 or even 4 ply) toilet paper and cut a disc of the same size as the foam disc. You can use the disc as a template.
Now the individual plies need to be pulled apart. This is illustrated in the picture below.

toiletpaper

You will end up with 2 (or 3 or 4) individual plies of toilet paper. Put 1 ply on top of the driver as shown below.

paper on driver

Put the foam disc back on there and push the ring back in place. Mind the orientation of the ring. The small ‘pins’ that hold the foam must be down. There is a small tab that must fit in the slot again. This is shown below in the red circle. Simply press the ring back in place.

click

Below the measurements of the differences between a stock DT880, with 1 ply and with 2 plies on top of each other.

toilet paper

For me (older ears) the single ply works well. A 3dB reduction of treble energy is quite welcome. There is still a slight elevation which is actually not problematic as this is partly responsible for the ‘clarity’ and ‘detailed’ sound.
Below the frequency response with a single ply of toilet paper. Left and Right.
FR TP
This is an improvement over the stock version. To try this out the headphone does not even have to be opened up at all. Simply cut out a small disc of toilet paper of about the size of the innerpad. Shove it in there and have a listen. When this is an improvement perform the mod above.

Below an interesting comparison between the DT880 (with 1 ply of toilet paper) compared to the Sennheiser HD800S.
DT880 (TP) vs HD800S)
The tonal balance is quite similar. The DT880 actually is slightly less ‘bright/sharp’.
Of course wearing comfort, soundstage and level of detail retrieval is not the same.
Still those not willing to fork out too much could simply consider the DT880 and not miss out too much. The DT880 is quite good for its price.

For those that wonder … yes, this can also be applied with DT770 and DT990 and will lower the treble peak of those headphones as well … somewhat at least.

Kameleon

A Kameleon DT880 module is available for the DT880.
Below the results with a normal amp and through the Kameleon.

DT880 Kaml L

Below the frequency response via the Kameleon (Left, Right)

FR DT880 Kam

The frequency response is reference quality flat. Bass extension is excellent. Tonal balance is spot on. Treble is still slightly elevated. Because of this it retains the detailed character.

Distortion plot (the real 2nd harm. distortion is lower as the limit of my test system is reached)

Dist L

Below the same plot but in percentages.

Dist L percent

Below the CSD (left channel only)

CSD L

This is a very good, almost exemplary response. No resonances are present.

And finally the step response (left channel)

Step L

Excellent response with great bass extension and a flat response and good attack.

 

summary

All in all this is a ‘pleasant’ headphone to wear and listen to with a midrange oriented ‘neutral’ character. It does lack ‘body’ and subbass a bit but bass itself sounds good and ‘tight’. It also has slight ‘warmth’ to the mids so isn’t overly ‘forward’ sounding and has a good ‘presence’. The elevated treble may be an issue for those who prefer softer and subdued treble. Those that like ‘detail’ and ‘analytical’ sound will not be disappointed.
It can get a little ‘hot’ with lesser recordings and rock music but sounds great with classical music, jazz and most well recorded music.
The treble ‘issue’ can be reduced drastically with the mod described above.

With Kameleon it becomes a comfortable reference quality headphone. Full in the lows but not very ‘tight’. Mids sound open and realistic. The hyper detail and ‘sharpness’ is not as present any more. Instead the treble is softer yet still extended with enough ‘air’.

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